2016 roundup

And just like that, 2016 is over. So much happened this year on the world stage, a lot (ok, most) of it unpleasant; but on a personal level, it’s actually been quite a successful year. It’s been a bit hard to document at the end of blog posts, though, so here’s a post devoted to the writing-related things that happened:

Articles

Fanfiction

  • The Malfoy Case, Harry Potter (complete, after two years!)

    The trials for suspected Death Eaters involved in the Wizarding Wars have begun, and Draco Malfoy finds himself trying to hold together what is left of his family and his fortune, while struggling to escape the looming, almost inevitable future of a lifetime spent in Azkaban. But there is one person who might not have given up completely.

  • ErosionMad Max: Fury Road (complete)

    Furiosa runs.

  • in the andaruni, Narnia (complete, this year’s NFE)

    “There are two powers in the world; one is the sword and the other is the pen. There is a great competition and rivalry between the two. There is a third power stronger than both, that of the women.”
    ― Muhammad Ali Jinnah

  • The Tisroc and the King, Narnia (still in progress)

    Something went very differently, and Cor and Aravis never met. As two enemy nations crown their new rulers and are faced with the threat of imminent war, Aravis and Cor find themselves dreaming of a mysterious boy and girl, and a life that could have been.

  • The ettiquette of retrospect, Harry Potter (complete)

    In which Ursula Black hosts a party after violently disowning her son, Belvina Black knows all the gossip, and Herbert Burke must get his act together.

  • Scope and IntensityHarry Potter (complete)

    Bill returns to Cairo to pack his bags

  • Soldier’s Heart, Harry Potter (complete)

    “I just didn’t think that things would ever be normal,” he said. “It’s almost autumn again, and last winter we were just trying to survive…”

  • Marius, Harry Potter (in progress)

    The East End of London, 1938. Marius Black is a Squib—the shame of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black, hidden from Wizarding society lest it discover the family’s terrible secret.

    As a second World War draws ever closer, and a mysterious magical threat rises in Nurmengard, Marius turns to the Muggle world on a relentless quest for what those of his family have always coveted: power.

Others

What to expect in 2017

  • Hopefully no more celebrity deaths or the annihilation of human rights.
  • I’ll be traveling even more, and eventually starting school in America!
  • You’ll be seeing a lot more of me on Hypable… more on that later.
  • The Tisroc and the King will finish (yes, really)
  • Marius will properly take off (I know I promised this last year, but this time I mean it)
  • More blog posts, as I collect even more interesting experiences!

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Happy New Year, everyone! May 2017 treat us better than 2016 did. I hope to continue providing more content here, and on my other platforms, for your enjoyment (or confusion, if you’re still trying to understand why I spend so much time on fanfiction).

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Carta a la Lengua Española

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Yo sé que no te escribo a menudo; por favor, no pienses que es porque no te quiero. Sé que muchas personas dicen eso. Dicen que no te quiero, que intento olvidar mi pasado, mi niñez, mi historia. Que mi país y mi sangre no han dejado ningún rastro tuyo en mi. No es cierto.

Te reemplacé con otros, eso sí. No eres, y nunca fuiste, la de mis sueños, y en mis memorias solo quedan otros — pero fue una decisión conciente, no una hecha por descuido. Te dejé a un lado a propósito, porque no me era posible hacerte justicia.

Te dejé en la tierra roja de mi país, en el olor de la lluvia paraguaya. Te dejé en las risas de mis amigos, chistes que pocos más podrán entender sin el contexto de tus palabras. Te dejé en todos los besos que perdí porque nunca se me dieron, en ese chico que sabía a cenizas y el que me amó solo en sueños. Te dejé entrelazada con mis sentimientos, con mis dolores, tan profundamente unida a mis arterias que ya no cabías en mi nombre. Y no supe externalizarte, escribirte, describirte– hay demasiado por contar y poca habilidad para elogiarte.

Y si dejé atrás tus acentos, no era por ignorancia (siempre estudié como se espera, y en papel fingí ser experta). Los dejé con mi entonación y la ultima letra de mis palabras. Y no supe si decir ‘tú’ o decir ‘vos’, porque coloquialismos no van con la formalidad que se requiere para sonar bien como lo dicta la costumbre.

Y así quedaste, escrita en más que mi sangre. Demasiada sagrada como para consagrar a memorias o a confesiones. Te dejé en mis labios y no en mi pluma, en mis risas y en mi rutina. Te dejé donde nadie, quizás, te recuerde — en mi carne, para acompañarme en la tumba.


I got randomly inspired to write in Spanish. It’s been a while. Please check out my list of works in the menu at the top of the page… I’ve done a lot in the last month and a half!

Learning to edit

There are very few things as painful as having to cut a 6,000-word-long story down to under 3,000 words.

Still, sometimes it’s necessary. Editing and proofreading things has become almost as prevalent in my life as writing itself – I’m in the process of going through two novels for two different friends of mine (which I’ll definitely review and encourage you to buy once they get published), and last week I edited four different fanfics for teammates in the Quidditch League Fanfiction Competition. Not to mention my own work – which is significantly harder to edit, since it’s so close to my heart.

I used to be confused when I read interviews with famous authors who said that they had rewritten their novels about a million times before ending up with the finished product that they published. The concept was baffling to me. It’s already so hard to produce a quality first draft – how on Earth did they find the energy to rewrite the whole thing so many times? And once you’ve written a story, it’s mostly set in stone in your head – how much could possibly change drastically enough to require a full rewrite?

But nowadays, sitting at the computer with no less than thirty-five browser tabs, three pdf files and four different Word documents open (and all for a story that ranges between 3-6K), I think I’m beginning to understand. My writing has significantly improved over the past few years, thanks to things like the SATs that taught me to recognized when a sentence isn’t structured properly (I’ve never actually taken any English classes), and from editing other people’s work and figuring out what common mistakes we make as writers when we assume the reader will just get what we mean. I’ve rewritten and restructured short stories, and learned to go over them many times (on separate days, ideally, to try and keep a clear mindset every time). And beta readers are life savers – especially when even I’m getting confused with my plot.

Making every word mean something takes a lot of detachment, especially when there’s a flowery sentence that sounds amazing but doesn’t really contribute anything to the story. Switching between creative and critical requires a sort of blunt sincerity that I’m not used to – but it’s extremely useful, even though I have to control it when beta’ing stories for my friends, or my constructiveness will turn destructive. I’ve also found that reading snarky book reviews (see Jenny Trout’s hilarious blog) is both really entertaining and educational; sometimes after reading a ton of badly written mainstream fiction, you need someone to point out the gaping holes it has in order to avoid making the same mistakes yourself. It’s hard to notice when you’re so used to them.

And while I used to hate editing my things, I suspect that once I get back on track with my novel and actually finish it, I’ll have a much easier time going through 100K+ words and getting something of quality out of it. I know that I have a tendency to repeat words and use way too many commas, so those mistakes are some of the first things I seek out in my finished draft. I’ve become much better at punctuation and much better at cutting unnecessary things out – even though it hurts my soul, sometimes. But it’s refreshing to know that longer doesn’t necessarily mean better. You can write short things and still keep the same quality content.

(I’m still in pain about that story, though – I actually posted two versions. But I’m learning to let go.)

(also, that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m going to put any editing energy into my blog. I’m lazy like that.)

What’s been your experience with editing? Please tell me in the comments!


Last week I wrote A Tapestry of Bruises for the QLFC, a Harry Potter fanfiction competition. I’ll be posting a new story within the next few days.

I have some pretty intense exams coming up this weekend, so please keep me in your thoughts! And if you see me on tumblr too much, please yell at me. I should be finishing the next chapter of The Malfoy Case sometime next week… I don’t want to focus too much on that and end up getting a bad grade.

The Feeling – and a Short Story

It’s been a crazy month! But it’s been a month of new experiences.

In my last post, I mentioned that I was doing a lot of research about the writing world. Well, I now have something to show for myself. Red Line Magazine has graciously accepted and short listed my submission to their ‘Conflict’ issue, so

you can now read my new short story, Rules of the Altar!

I don’t want to give away the plot – it does, after all, rely very heavily on the reader not knowing what’s going on while they’re reading it – but they described it best as the bedroom of a couple in meltdown, so let’s leave it at that. I look forward to reading what you think of it! I’m incredibly proud of it, and I’m so happy that they thought it was good enough to be short listed. I’m currently reading the other amazing stories on the list – I just read Don’t go, darling boy and it’s so well written, I’m still a little heartbroken by its characters.

Thinking about short stories and what makes a good short story has had me thinking about stories in general. Hank Green, it seems, had the same thing in mind:

I have decided that the thing that sets us apart as people, that makes us capable of air conditioning and hot showers and lunar landings and nuclear war can be summed up in one word, and that word is ‘stories’. If this sounds a little froofy to you, let me remind you that there was a time before email, before phones, before newspapers, before the written word even. When humanity was first benefiting from the massive utility of passing tremendous amounts of information from generation to generation, the vehicle for the passing of that information was the story. Stories were, and I think that they still are, how we define ourselves and our culture and even our technology and science. Every human society that wants to behave differently first has to change the stories that they tell. Stories, in songs, in books, on the stage, on podcasts, around the campfire help us define who we are. We are made of stories.

(do I mention the vlogbrothers too much on this blog? Pff, of course not.)

There’s an amazing weight set on the line Every human society that wants to behave differently first has to change the stories that they tell, but I’ll save that for another post.

2014-10-10 17.32.26I generally write short stories all in one go, so before beginning my writing I go through a very long process –  lasting anywhere from a day to three months, in my experience (let’s include fanfiction when talking about short stories, since they’re basically the same thing) – , and it includes a lot of brainstorming, staring moodily out of windows, reciting dialogue at myself in the shower, researching obscure facts, going through a thesaurus to discover the word I’m thinking about, making a general outline for myself, finding pictures and poetry and songs that fit… but I wondered, at which point in all the writing that wasn’t actually writing, did I say “okay, now I’m ready to write this”?

Before I wrote Six, I spent about a month and a half trying to understand what I wanted to put into words. It all started with a friend from the Narnia Fic Exchange mentioning something in a review of another one of my stories that prompted me to think about a relationship between Bacchus and Calypso. I started out with an idea of some sort of romantic, witty conversation – and ended up with something that wasn’t quite different, but was extremely different at the same time. While doing research about the gods and trying to understand their mythology, I spoke to friends from islands in the Pacific about the legends in their own cultures. I discovered that many legends from opposite sides of the world seem to overlap – and I began a hunt through six different cultures to try and find similar characters. But even when I had a list of names, I still didn’t quite know what I wanted.

Continue reading

Useful links for the stressed writer!

I’m extremely busy at the moment, working on my own stories, editing my own work, editing friends’ work and studying for upcoming tests… but what I’m doing in between all of this is a ridiculous amount of research about the writing world. Since I came across so many great sites during my adventures, I thought it might be good to share them with you, since you might find them useful, too!small

Clever Girl Helps – For all your reference help and advice! Possibly the easiest and most comprehensive tumblr writing blog I’ve ever found. You can ask things, but you’ll probably find all of your answers somewhere in their tags. I think I’m writing most of my novel thanks to this blog.

Cathy’s Comps and Calls – I’m poor and not really earning any money right now, so finding writing contests worth my while that don’t require an entry fee is tedious work. Thankfully, this wonderful person compiles writing competitions and calls for submissions by deadline–and they’re all free!

Tip of my Tongue – You’ve probably heard of this one already, but it’s great to have when you can think of the definition but are having a hard time coming up with the actual word.

Writing With Color – I literally just found this a few hours ago, but it’s a great blog for advice writing characters of color. In my opinion, no matter what your character’s ethnicity is, you should really read at least a few of their posts. They’re great.

Writing Contests – Another well-organized list of contests that you can filter through tags according to what you’re looking for!

The Review Review – Okay, so I haven’t had the time to go through everything, but the two articles I did read are extremely useful to me when it comes to submitting work to literary magazines and trying to understand what editors are looking for.

Have you discovered any other great sites lately that might help us tackle the challenges of the writing life? Please share them with the rest of us in the comments!


*and do I know why there’s a rat on that pile of books? No, I don’t, but I suppose he’s an intellectual rat.

Fan Art

It’s been about a month and a half since I last updated, but here I am again! I’ve since moved to another city and gone back to working outside instead of in an office (which means lots of blisters but also lots of fresh air and time to think). I’ve certainly enjoyed myself, but I’ve also procrastinated a lot.

However, I have the wonderful readers of The Malfoy Case to thank for the perseverance I’ve had in writing the last few chapters, especially the last one, which is posted now and was almost entirely written on my phone (like this blog post)!

Jewels, a great friend of mine, made these awesome drawings of Astoria Greengrass from my fanfic:

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And another amazing reader has given me the gift of these beautiful banners:

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It’s such an honor to have talented artists invest time in a story I’m writing.

So please come check out the latest chapter in the legal drama fic and let me know what you think!

I won NaNoWriMo 2014!

I JUST WON NANOWRIMO 2014!

I didn’t finish my novel… far from it, really, but I’m still proud that I managed to finish a day early (well, two days early – I just finished at around 1 a.m on the 29th so it counts as the 29th but in my head it’s still the 28th!) and that I’ve begun the long journey towards creating a beautiful product that people can enjoy.

So far I’m 50,077 words in and about halfway through the plot. I’ve learned a lot this year, but I’ll save an eloquent list of things I’ve learned for later. Right now it’s way too late and I have to get up in four hours to go to work. So I just want to say…

– I’m sorry I didn’t post more this month! But I did post, which is actually pretty impressive given my track record.

– THANK YOU to each and every one of you who gave me encouragement on twitter, followed me, commented and liked my stuff! You’re wonderful and I hope you’re also having a successful month.

– I hope you had a great Thanksgiving, if you celebrate that. I just know there’s turkey involved, and I hope you enjoyed your turkey and cranberry-stuff. (Okay, I admit I had a Thanksgiving dinner today, which was awesome because it was something I haven’t had often in my lifetime and guys, the food is amazing.)

Let me know how your writing is going! Be happy! Don’t stay up too late like I’m doing right now!